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Sept 13th 2015
Compassion and friendliness are important in the medical community, especially dentistry. There’s a reason going to the dentist is a cultural pain-point and source of comedy. With so many people avoiding a dental appointment because of a bad experience or fear of the unknown, it’s important to emphasize creating a friendly environment for your patients.
Engaging with your patients and improving their experience is an office-wide effort, and each team has unique opportunities.
Greeting: Front Office Staff
The front office staff are the first people your patients see, making their first impression crucial. Greeting patients as soon as they walk in the door, asking if they have any questions, and letting them know what will happen next can all help alleviate a patient’s nerves. Consider offering water, coffee, and tea, as well as books in addition to magazines.
The precursor to helping patients relax is training your team to detect nervousness and fear. If hygienists can sense a patient’s apprehension, then they can take steps to help.
Medical amenities like offering conscious sedation and/or pre-polish for those with sensitive teeth can help patients relax by removing uncomfortable situations, whether it’s pain tolerance or a previous bad experience.
Offering blankets, music and headphones, or TVs can help distract the nervous patient from what’s happening. Some practices have massage covers on exam chairs. While it’s an investment, it’s another step you can take to become a practice helping people maintain their dental health and rethink their apprehension about the dentist.
Saying “relax” isn’t the right way to approach this. It needs to be a frame of mind. If every part of your team is dedicated to creating the environment to relax, then there won’t be a need to explicitly state it.
Emphasizing: Support Staff
While support staff may not often come in contact with patients, it’s smart to ensure they can interact with them when needed. Lab techs moving from room to room can help the rest of the team emphasize a professional yet friendly mood. Every member of your team is important, and by emphasizing your technologists’ value, you can help provide patients with an exemplary experience.
As the final step of the exam, some dentists can seem brusque and businesslike. They’re busy, whether it’s a tight schedule or business matters, and it’s understandable. But taking a few minutes to really hear a patient’s concerns, answer questions, and calmly looking at their teeth can help them feel confident in choosing your practice, and like they received excellent care.
Every moment has the chance to help your patient relax. From confidently yet calmly entering and answering their questions, you have the power to create an amazing patient experience. Treating patients as humans, not as a chart, can help them feel their concerns have merit.
Ask ten friends, and you’re likely to hear at least one saying they don’t like the dentist. Creating a calm environment in your office can not only help your patients overcome their apprehension of the dentist, it might even help them enjoy their visits! Creating a calm environment goes a long way in creating a friendly practice, and can help you grow and become known as such in your area. Happy patients want to share about their experiences with friends. Each team in your office has a unique opportunity to interact with patients, and when these teams work together, great things can happen.